Curlena Smith is known as a kind, friendly and dedicated “church lady”.
A single woman in her mid-seventies, she calls a rustic, tiny house in Exuma her home. In the yard outside there is a simple message nailed to a tree: “Sowing Within”. A seamstress by trade, it might seem as if the life of Curlena Smith is as it should be.
But the reality within that house told a different story.
Until recently, Curlena lacked the very basics of life – including a flushing toilet.
“This woman needed our help,” said Chris Kettel, a long-time board member of the Exuma Foundation, the largest non-profit organization on the island. “She was a dedicated church lady. One evening, on the way to church, it was dark and she was wearing dark clothing, and she was hit by a truck. I thought she had died. But she went to a hospital in Nassau and somehow survived.”
After overcoming the odds, Curlena’s strength was rewarded when the Exuma Foundation, in cooperation with Starve Poverty International, decided to to build her a proper bathroom.
And her reaction was worth every penny. Click here to see the reveal.
Curlena’s bathroom is just one example of how the Exuma Foundation has been making a difference on the island. Donating hundreds of thousands to the community each year, their mandate runs the gambit, from the environment, to education, to healthcare, to basic human needs.
Last month, Peter Nicholson, the President of WCPD Inc. and GIV Bahamas Inc., attended his first AGM at the Exuma Foundation, where he was officially announced as the latest member of the Board of Trustees. Nicholson was also made chairman of the Foundation’s Developmental Committee for creating new initiatives and donations.
“The Exuma Foundation is really the United Way for this island,” Nicholson said.
“It is so important to the lives of everyone on Exuma, including locals, tourists, investors and second-home owners. It knits us all together and I am so pleased and honoured to do my part for the community. The Exuma Foundation campus is expansive and beautiful, and I encourage everyone to stop by and take a tour.”
The sprawling 10-acre campus, located right off the Queen’s Highway beside Bank of the Bahamas, has been the epicenter of charitable giving for more than 20 years. With a small staff and a group of dedicated volunteers, the organizations runs many important programs, such as a monthly food bank and a full-time school for people with mental disabilities.
Going forward, with the help of Nicholson and some new blood, the Exuma Foundation hopes to expand its programs and bring in fresh donations, especially at the island anticipates the opening of its new hospital. The 30,000-square-foot mini-hospital will be outfitted with 10 beds, an operating table, a dental facility, physiotherapy, a morgue and an emergency and trauma room.
A Humane Society, the building of a museum and coordination with the new agriculture institute on Andros are other projects currently being considered by the Foundation.
Given the considerable and growing presence of Canadians on the island, Nicholson is also in the process of seeking a CRA number, so the Exuma Foundation can issue tax receipts. The Exuma Foundation currently has an American affiliate and offers these incentives for its extensive list of US donors.
To learn more about the Exuma Foundation, get involved, or make a donation, you can visit its website at www.exumafoundation.org.